By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, August 16, 1994:
New Straits Times commended for an excellent piece of investigative reporting on last Saturday’s fire at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Subang which knocked out the terminal approach radar
New Straits Times must be commended for an excellent piece of investigative reporting on last Saturday’s fire at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Subang which knocked out the terminal approach radar at Bukit Subang.
As a result, thousands of passngers will have to endure delays of between five and 30 minutes as air traffic controllers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport go manual in their guidance of in-coming and out-going flights.
The New Straits Times reported that the fire had seriously damaged vital components of the RM16.5 million Thomson-CSF radar installed in June last year.
The damage to the radar control room could take up to six months to be repaired, as the French radar manufacturer, who has a two-year maintenance contract, will have to import the necessary components.
Until the radar is repaired, all flights in and out of Subang below 15,000 ft (about 4,572 metres) would have to be carried out manually, resulting in flight delays and the stacking up of aircraft over the Puchong and Batu Arang airspace.
What is shocking is the failure of the fire-detection systems at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, said to be one of the most advanced in the world, to alert the DCA control room in Subang of the blaze.
DCA ‘cover-up’ attempt is stupid and goes against the government’s commitment to run an open, responsible and accountable administration
Equally shocking is the ‘cover-up’ attempt by the authorities and in particular the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to deny the seriousness of the fire, by claiming that it was only a ‘bush fire’.
I do not believe the DCA would dare to attempt a ‘cover-up’ without wuthorisation from the Minister for Transport, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who probable does not want to have another addition to the longest list of desasters which had occurred in the transport sector under his tenure as Minister for Transport.
Liong Sik should explain why DCA was allowed to try to attempt a ‘cover-up’ of the fire, which has seriously undermined the government’s credibility nationally as well as internationally.
It was stupid to try to attempt the ‘cover-up’ in the first place, because there is no way such a ‘cover-up’ would succeed. Furthermore, it goes against the Government’s claim to operate an open, responsible and accountable administration.
Liong Sik should not only give a full accounting about the ‘cover-up’ attempt, the latest fire at Subang International Airport, but also what has happened to the report of the investigations into the October 1992 International Airport control tower – the second Subang Airport fire in two years in 1992.
The then Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, promised that the report would be made public within two weeks. It is now coming to two years – and there is still no sight of the report. Instead, there has been another fire which will be a major set-back to the restoration of the international reputation of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The latest fire, the attempted cover-up, the delay in releasing the report of investigations into the October 1992 Subang Airport fire, are not helpful in establishing Malaysia as an international aviation centre in keeping with the construction of the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
The time has come for the country to have a new Transport Minister.